Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes chief Niki Lauda were unimpressed with Sebastian Vettel's driving at the start of the French GP
Lewis Hamilton has described Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty for crashing into Valtteri Bottas as a “tap on the hand” and believes his title rival deserved a harsher punishment at the French GP.
Vettel collided with Bottas at the first corner and, though he was penalised by race stewards as both cars suffered damage, he recovered to finish fifth while Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate could only salvage seventh.
Hamilton avoided the chaos from pole, comfortably won the race and now leads Vettel by 14 points in the championship standings, but was still unhappy with the penalty the Ferrari driver received.
Hamilton wins after Vettel crashes
Vettel accepts blame for collision
“Ultimately, when someone destroys your race through an error and it’s kind of a tap on the hand really – they’re allowed to come back and still finish ahead of that person he took out – it doesn’t weigh up,” said Hamilton.
“You shouldn’t really be able to finish ahead of him if you took him out of the race.”
Hamilton continued on Sky F1: “It’s like when you’re speeding on the road, you break the law and they let you go.
1:48 Watch replays of how Sebastian Vettel damaged the front wing of his Ferrari after colliding with Valtteri Bottas on lap 1 of the French GP
“It is challenging [at the first corner], but it’s also not for a four-time world champion.
“Valtteri was way, way ahead and left him a lot of space. It looks odd because he backed off and was actually OK for the corner… maybe he wasn’t thinking and just ran straight into him.”
The world champion’s thoughts were echoed by his Mercedes team, who claim Vettel “destroyed” Bottas’ race.
“Why did Vettel only get five seconds for this enormous mistake?” Mercedes’ executive director Niki Lauda told Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz. “I don’t understand.
“It’s too little – five seconds is nothing. He really destroyed the whole race for himself and for Bottas.”
Team boss Toto Wolff added: “It was a misjudgement from Sebastian in my opinion because he ruined his race as well.”
Hamilton was also evidently bemused when watching the incident for the first time in the cool-down, saying: “He took him right out. That’s crazy.”
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